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While the saying “money doesn’t buy you happiness” may be true for many New York residents, a recent study also shows that debt might buy couples unhappiness. The study found that more than half of all couples go into their marriages with debt and 40 percent admitted that this has a negative impact on their relationship.

Not only is debt an issue, but also who the debt belongs to. The study also found that 49 percent of couples disagree on with whom the debt responsibility lies. Where debt is hanging over a marriage, couples are more likely to have poor communication and difficulty talking about finances. Couples who fight often are 30 percent more likely to divorce than those who do not. In fact, study after study has found that fighting over money is a top predictor for divorce.

Couples who are having financial issues may want to consider taking a few steps before they end up at divorce’s door. One of those steps is to understand why talking about money is so stressful. Without talking about money, neither party can figure out how indebted they are or how important it is to cut back on expenses. Once couples find out what is owed and to whom, then they can sit down and determine how to go about cutting back expenses and organize themselves in a manner conducive to paying off their debt.

One way couples ensure their debt stays separate is to create either a postnuptial or prenuptial agreement, especially if they have many business assets or are a high profile couple. Property and debt division is complicated enough, but a high-asset divorce involving complex asset division and debt allocation can be even more problematic. It might be helpful to consult an experienced attorney for help on how to proceed on these matters, as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may be able to alleviate property and debt division issues before they arise.